1972 Bulova Jet Star Caliber 11BSACB (AS 2066)

The 70s was a formative decade worldwide and people have mixed feelings about parts of it (think Nixon, Disco, Thatcher, etc.) I have no opinion on these matters. I was not alive to pass judgment on the goings on and so I feel that I do not have the right (If I happen to restore a watch from the 80s though, all bets are off.) I do have to say that watch designs during this decade were pretty awesome. Prior to this time watches tended to be daintier in size and look. This decade saw the re-examination of components like the watchcase and the hands and turned them into prominent design elements.

This Bulova Jet Star from 1972 just screams 70s and I love it.

The general aesthetic of this watch is somewhere between “chunky” and space age. Most certainly a divergence from the common round and tank shaped watches from decades before, this odd shape almost looks like it belongs on Batman’s utility belt. Although it doesn’t look like it, the lug-to-lug measurement and the width (excluding the crown) are identical.  The brushed finish helps to accentuate the unique design of the hands and dial as well as to soften the look of the metal. It also helps to provide a sharp line and angle contrast making this watch look rather sleek despite its size. All to often on these watches this delicate finish is polished away and the watch looks like its been stuck in a chunky rounded mirror.

Typically watches have simple utilitarian hands. They either glowed or they didn’t and some had little stylistic elements (Breguet hands, etc.) but they were mostly there to perform their function. This Jet Star takes them a step further and adds a touch I have only ever seen on two watches: this one and the famous Bulova Chronograph C. You will notice that arrows have been drawn on the rectangular hands. As simple as this is it adds an eye-catching feature to an otherwise typical watch of the time.

This piece has an automatic Bulova 11BSACB or an AS 2066 movement which like most Bulova and AS movements is well built and easily withstands the test of time. It has a quickset date and day function, which is a bit of a pain to reassemble, but on the wrist it’s a fantastically practical mechanism.

The color scheme of this watch is definitively patriotic, so whether or not you think America was great during the 70s, this watch has been and will be around to wear in a decade more appropriate for American Pride.

1972 Bulova Jet Star Side 1972 Bulova Jet Star Front

1972 Bulova Jet Star Movement 1972 Bulova Jet Star Flat

1972 Bulova Jet Star Angle

Vintage Heuer Monaco Valjoux Caliber 7736 Chronograph

There are some movements that are made to last forever. Unfortunately, they are sometimes built along with Gaskets that were not. This iconic Heuer Monaco required the most labor I have ever put into a watch before even getting to the movement

Made famous by Steve McQueen, the Heuer Monaco became one of the most iconic, and easily the most recognizable chronographs ever made. In addition to its rarity and collectability, it also has a design flaw that has come to haunt it and its devoted collector base. Heuer decided to have this incredibly robust case clamp together with a gasket positioned adjacent to the crystal and dial (see picture below.) Old gaskets on many watches suffer melt (Bulovas, Zodiacs, Omegas, you name it, I’ve opened it and gotten melted rubber on my hands) but these gaskets are usually on the back, making it an easy clean up and never posing a threat to the delicate dial and hands. On the Monaco however, gasket melt poses no threat to the movement, but can and in many cases does ruin the dial (and the value.)

This watch had never been opened in its life. Upon close inspection I saw a thin black line on the edge of the crystal that indicated the notorious problem with these watches was indeed a reality. The gasket had melted. It is an incredibly sad thing to see such a stupid problem have such a rough impact on a piece such as this. Worse than the gooey mess that the melt leaves behind, the melted rubber is ever so slightly acidic, and so its contact with the dial can eat away at the finish and the metal. Incredibly the damage was minor given that this watch had been sitting in a box for 20 years. After carefully removing the melted rubber from the dial, the case was much easier to get to. A run through the ultrasonic cleaner and it was as good as new.


Heuer Monaco Gasket Melt Heuer Monaco Melt Clean-up Heuer Monaco Dirty Case


Heuer Monaco Clean Dial Heuer Monaco Clean CaseHeuer Monaco Clean

Once done with the annoying, messy, and time-consuming task of the gasket clean up, I finally got to the movement. From the second I received this watch I knew that the movement was perfect. Valjouxs are easily the most reliable mass-used vintage chronograph movement. This Caliber 7736 was no exception. A full wind and a ride on the Timegrapher (a machine, or actually a fancy microphone, to check the time-keeping accuracy) indicated that this piece was maintained with care and was in pristine, like-new condition. The gasket melt, although treacherous on the dial, must have helped to form a hermetic seal that prevented even a speck of dust from getting in to the movement.


Sometimes you take apart a movement to try and figure out what is wrong (repair), and sometimes (as in this case) you just try to not mess anything up but make sure its good to run for another couple years (maintain.)

I gave this a disassembly, cleaning, and oiling, and put it on the timegrapher again to make sure I didn’t screw anything up. Sure enough it ran just as well as before. After adding a new modern gasket, a new crystal, and a new band I could give my friend the assurance that his father’s watch was like new again. Although some of the dollar value had been hit by the melt of the gasket, the sentimental value of the piece was preserved.

Heuer Monaco Complete

1946 Bulova Watertite Caliber 10BAC

As incredibly cliché as it might be to say that it’s the little things that count when it comes to watch repair, there’s a reason that the cliché exists. This yet-to-be-identified 1940s Bulova restore is evidence of it. I bought this as part of a two-watch lot that was badly photographed. Combine a bad photograph with a watch in bad shape, and you have a definite opportunity for arbitrage or at least the potential for a great restore at a reasonable price point. Sometimes watches arrive running and all they need is a good cleaning oiling and regulating. Other times (as was the case here) they arrive fully wound (for some reason non-working watches always arrive fully fully wound as if winding it all the way will somehow get it ticking.) Watches like this are often referred to as “overwound” but that’s not a reason for not working it’s a symptom of something else. The term “overwound” is actually meaningless and “overused.” Moving on: when watches arrive in this state it becomes like a puzzle to spot the issue and get it remedied by cleaning or a new part. Most of the time the former does the trick. But this one required a bit more work.


I took this watch off of its horrific stretchy band and set about getting it clean inside and out.

During disassembly one major problem was clear: the third wheel was broken as was the wheel that sits atop it to drive the second hand. I resumed the disassembly and got to the cleaning. After cleaning, I set out all the pieces and examined them one by one. It was here that I found the second major issue pictured below. The gear driving the second hand had a broken tooth. Once all the broken components were replaced this piece ran like new again. With a new crystal and band, and a good case polish it is now looking much better than when it came in.

IMG_0989 IMG_0991

Although its identity remains unknown, it appears to be a variant on the Air Warden (see an earlier restore.) The dimensions are identical, and the general aesthetic is similar, but the movements (10 BE vs. 10BAC) and the difference of sub-dial (second hand at 6 o’clock) and sweep second (big second hand) might rule this out. Either way it’s a great piece from the 1940’s that has that vintage WWII militaria feel to it.



UPDATE: Thanks to the research of this watch’s great new owner, this has been identified as a Watertite

Zodiac SeaWolf Diver Caliber 72b

As far as Diver’s Watches are concerned, few are as iconic, reliable, and reasonable as the Zodiac Seawolf. Once an incredibly innovative and highly regarded brand, they like many others hit hard times as quartz killed the middle market for timepieces.  The company changed hands a few times and is currently owned by Fossil. Although positioned as somewhat of a luxury arm of Fossil Watches they have lost some of the Swiss elegance, clean designs, and craftsmanship that they were once known for.

I have a love/hate relationship with the movement in these pieces. These movements were the product of a joint development between Girard Perregaux, Eberhard, and Doxa among others (as I said before, a once innovative and highly regarded brand.) No matter what condition I get these in, a trip through the cleaner and they have an amazing sparkle and finish that you cannot help but be mesmerized by. They are also incredibly robust, which is one of the reasons they became famous as the choice of watch for Navy SEALs (as legend has it.)

On the hate side this movement has a few peculiarities that can make it incredibly frustrating to work with. It has something called an offset cannon pinion. The cannon pinion is the piece that transfers motion from the wheels below to drive gears up top and thus the hands. While there are other movements that have offset cannon pinions few have the number of problems I have seen with these. Since this is a two-piece mechanism the most common problem is a total loss of friction between the components. This leads to the unbelievably annoying problem that the mechanism works perfectly, but the minute and hour hands wont advance. Due to this, these watches require an extra step of mounting a minute hand before setting the dial just to make sure that the thing advances. Another downside is that this part isn’t made anymore, making it crucial that any adjustment is done incredibly carefully. Not to say that any adjustment with any part is ever done without delicacy, but the added pressure is somewhat annoying. It also has a case back that is damn near impossible to get open.

Once together though this piece is great and has a few functions that set it apart from other similar watches. Firstly this watch has a hack function, meaning that when you pull the crown to set the time the second hand stops for precision time setting. Secondly, it is equipped with a quickset date function allowing the date wheel to turn by simply depressing the crown. Although this causes the crown to jut out a touch more than usual, I prefer that to the winding and winding and winding sometimes required to synchronize the date.

The light blue bezel on the white dial is a great look and a fantastic representation of the clean designs of old-school Zodiacs, as are their particular hands. Other than the few marks on the dial, it is in great shape. All finished, this is a unique and wonderfully made vintage diver’s watch.

Zodiac SeaWolf 72B Front  Zodiac 72B movement 1 Zodiac 72B movement 2 Zodiac 72B movement 3 Zodiac SeaWolf 72B Side